Pakistan Arrests 200 After London

Pakistan Arrests 200 after London Bombing

Pakistan is in the midst of a major crackdown on the leaders of radical Muslim groups, several of which had earlier been banned without much visible effect. Pakistani security forces have raided Muslim seminaries or madrasahs associated with the radical groups, and have arrested 200 persons, mostly apparently for hate speech. Although Pakistani authorities deny that the sweeps are related to the London July 7 bombings, that is only partially true. Some of the arrests clearly have been related, as with the targeting of the Jaish-i Muhammad [Army of Muhammad] and its Manzur al-Islam Seminary at Muridke near Lahore. Shahzad Tanveer spent time at that seminary and seems to have had a close relationship to the Jaish-i Muhammad.

Still, the sweep is far to broadly based to concern only the bombing. The Pakistani state is putting pressure on the jihadis in general.

At least one of the detainees is said to be a major al-Qaeda figure who may well have been involved in the bomb plot.

The search for a foreign mastermind of the attacks, however, has so far not panned out. The Egyptian authorities maintain that they have cleared Magdy Elnashar, the Egyptian chemist who helped Hasib Hussein–one of the bombers– get an apartment in Leeds. The police have abandoned the idea that a known British born terrorist came into the country a few months ago and then left, having mentored the young bombers.

A new lead to a mastermind appears to have opened with consideration of a possible role for Haroon Rashid Aswat, an associate of the Egyptian radical Abu Hamza al-Masri, the former leader of the Finsbury Mosque who is now on trial in the UK.

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